ASUS P5N-E SLI review (NF650i)
Author: Vedran Dakic
Date: 02 Mar 2007
Today we'll take a closer look to one of the motherboards based on one of the latest NVIDIA chipsets, 650i. Being a bit "cheaper" version of the 680i, already widely acclaimed chipset for a high-end user and all of the people who aspire to be high-end users. Having had a distinct pleasure of (ab)using 680-i motherboards for quite awhile on a daily basis now we had certain expectations. Let's see how good this motherboards meets them.
There a couple of things you notice the second you take this motherboard out of the box. First one being the fact that you can actually use almost all of your USB/FireWire headers. With reference-680i design, if you had SLI configuration, that was pretty hard. Although we still see some room for improvement. Actually, we were quite surprised by the fact that there's "only" a passive cooler on the NorthBridge chip, and no cooler on the SouthBridge chip. The holes for heatsink-mounting are actually there, but we don't think you can actually use a heatsink that's high - if you have SLI, it just won't fit. Both of these chips felt warm to our touch - we're still not entirely sure, but this could've been the reason for some problems we encountered later in the testing phase. If we were to look for some design-differences to 680i, we'd say that there are a few condy's "missing", and there's actually more space to add voltage regulators. BIOS chip is actually molded to the motherboard, which is something we haven't seen in quite awhile. We feel a bit eachy about this but - let's leave it to rest, for now...
Cheap, cheaper or just plain cheapo, whatever it's ment to be - we really dislike the fact that there's a "SLI-card" on the motherboard, used for deciding wether you'll use a single card or
SLI configuration. We just got used to the fact that it's gone and here it comes again to haunt us. :-) On the other hand, there's the opposite example - two IDE connectors (we got used to having one). The number of Serial ATA connectors came down to four here, there's a floppy connector and - not to forget - still enough room for you to actually install a SLI configuration. The back panel is pretty much standard - 2xPS/2, S/PDIF Coax in, E-SATA, FireWire (6-pin), four USB ports, Ethernet port and audio connectors. Everything considered, we didn't feel this was gonna be a hell-of-cool-OC-product right from the start...
The next problem we're really eachy about is pretty much the same thing we noticed on the 680i motherboards. There are actually some connections on the back of the motherboard (at least not components this time) that can really make your life miserable - for example, when you get an idea of installing a Zalman cooler or something like that. We really had a tough time when doing this and finally we applied the same approach we used with 680i motheboard - used our business cards for "isolation". How about a slight change in design here, please?